T H E   E X P A T R I A T E
L E T T E R S.

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We are trying to make this section denser and more impenetrable. There will be longer letters, and less editing. If you feel you are being passed over unduly, you may write more, and more frequently. We are your friends, and will try to listen.

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Date: Wed, 19 July 2000
From: "Sandra Martini"
Subject: Like Day and Night

Dear McSweeney's:

You'll be glad to know I gave up that whole utopian dream thing. And never mention the name Walter to me. Matthau has now made 76 movies and other than "Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore," 1992, I refuse to watch a single one.

So now it's back to the grind, putting my genetic engineering degree to work. We made some significant breakthroughs recently, though unfortunately, I've been forced to work with birds again. This time I will not name them.

Fade out. Sterile, light green-tiled laboratory. Day.

A myna bird squats over a pile of shit.

With it's freakishly long legs, this test-tube born fowl has accomplished the unthinkable: squatting. Traditionally birds have two positions: sitting and standing. There was no squatting. Until now.

Amazed by this marvel of modern science, I neglected to look where I was going and stepped right onto the pile of shit over which the myna was squatting. My legs, which have long been extremely capable of squatting, although not for increments of more than approximately fifteen minutes without the onset of what laymen sometimes refer to as "charley horse," slipped out from under me. I feared landing with the full force of the weight of my body on the genetically engineered bird, an act which would surely wipe out this biological accomplishment and set my colleagues back to the fertilization stage, so I focused on twisting my head, my shoulders, my neck, waist and knees in the opposite direction of the little bird. Blinded by panic, I could see nothing but a brilliant green field of light. Was this my life flashing before my eyes or the bird's? But in his short lifetime the bird had never seen anything other than the inside of this laboratory. The laboratory was green as was my vision, so maybe it was the bird's life I was viewing behind my eyes. How odd, I thought.

"Away to the right," I called out, hoping that every cell in my body would obey my command. Distracted by this physical squinching, I lost sight of my other bodily functions and released my bowels. Warm shit filled my shorts.

Fade to black.

Sterile, green-tiled laboratory. Night.

I don't know how long I was unconscious, but when I came too, someone was turning on the overhead florescent lights. Natural light was no longer sufficient.

"What is going on in here," someone with a deep compelling voice demanded to know. Blinking rapidly to adjust my eyes to the inordinately bright light, I recognized the head of the genetics department looming above me, sniffing exaggeratedly to identify the foul stench in the usually sterile high-tech lab. He'd been drinking again. "Who let that pigeon in and what in god's name are you lying in, Martini?"

Turning my head to the left, I saw that the bird I'd been unable to avoid crushing to death was in fact not the lab's prime specimen, but just an ordinary pigeon. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and quickly tried to come up with an explanation for the shit I'd found myself in.

"Sandra Martini"

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Date: Tue, 18 July 2000
From: Major Timothy McWeeney
Subject: No escape from the workplace

Dear McSweeney's,

The old man was soaking wet, lying on his side on the staircase in a wetsuit, flippers, and a scuba tank, hugging a feisty salmon. When he saw me he straightened up as though in preparation for a plucky game or performance of some kind. "Beat my stupid head in! Beat my stupid head in!" he shrieked. It seemed to be more of a formality than an actual invitation, like when an old friend from college that you haven't seen in a long time runs into you on the street and says, "Let's get together for dinner sometime and then huff gasoline and murder a few people." I kicked him over on his back to get a better look. Just as I suspected: old Tim, Patches. Out here on the filthy back stairway where the food court employees come to smoke hash and do yoga.

"Damn it grandpa! You know I can't abide family at the workplace!" Actually, I hadn't really suspected it was him. A) The old man can barely walk, much less with flippers and a 60-pound tank. B) Born blind with congenital syphilis; hence "Patches." 3) Ever since 1997 he's has been sleeping in a fish tank. It's the Internet: "that crazy doohad they got there in the Pentagon! Gotta minimize the radons! Get underwater!" Over the years he likes to have "fishies" inside. Hence, why he was here in the mall was something of a baffler. It would remain one. Just then he keeled over dead.

We hadn't spoken since I last humiliated him at Ping-Pong down at the whorehouse, the old man waving his paddle blindly, so I was in no mood to deal with his corpse. I said a quick prayer and left him. As a kind of last minute assignment before returning to the punching booth, I decided to go buy something with cash. Maybe some fresh grapes to turn into chewy raisins that I could then resell at a higher price to my eager assistant, Spontaneous Ernie. He likes to sneak them into his nostrils and ride up and down in the elevator without pushing any buttons. "People react to it strongly!" Once I caught him in there doing it and he started to cry. Said that I'd ruined everything. Since then I've been taking the stairs. Not because I care, but because I don't want Ernie to have a seizure. All that vomiting. That's why I was out there, feeling around on Patches' wetsuit to see if he had any cigars. I grabbed his diving mask and put that on instead, watching as the salmon slipped from his gnarled fist like a Slinky and started down the stairs. "See ya Patches." I turned to follow the fish, down the stairs and out onto the loading dock. There was a dumpster out there that a group of homeless toddlers lived in. Sometimes I would bring them biscuits and watch them fight. I stood in the shade and surveyed the bright parking lot, then down the cripple ramp and over to the Quickie Mart.

I am standing in front of the Quickie in the July sunshine, squinting with my bunches of grapes, rubbing my upper lip. Due to all the bruises, I have decided to hide behind a mustache. It has yet to grow, but I am patient. I carry a comb in my back pocket so I can begin to brush it as soon as it gets long enough. Over by the side of the drainage ditch the bus is just creaking to a stop in front of a long line of shifty looking shoppers. None of them actually board. I contemplate running over and getting on the bus myself. I have always wanted to go to Mexico. Down there everything is easy. All it takes to become a mayor is a squirt gun, some lettuce with dollars signs on it, and an ID drawn on a cocktail napkin. I have a dream of recruiting the local population into slavery by luring them onto barges under the guise of monthly spelling B competitions. Winner gets a plate of rice. It could work, I think. I imagine living on ketchup sandwiches and perhaps writing a bit -- something ridiculous, in ketchup, on the sidewalk.

These thoughts escape from my ears like stray bullets. The bus takes off and the long line of people remains. They remove their sunglasses and look at me. They walk toward me in single file, evidently hungry for my grapes. For the last hour I have been trying to dry them in the hot sun to make raisins. "Go on home, brother," the first man says to me. On his hands are oven mitts. "Afternoon," says another, touching the bill of his baseball cap. The woman behind him takes her sports paraphernalia a bit more seriously. She wears a hockey mask, goalie pads, and rollerskates. "Don't disappoint me," she says, holding out her gloves for grapes. "It's 3:15 in the afternoon and I've already forgotten why I'm here," says the fourth man. He is dribbling a basketball which he suddenly wails at my face. The blow is sudden and my head knocks into the brick wall, causing me to withdraw into my happy place, an old dilapidated football stadium filled with marching rodents playing tiny band instruments. "Jeez," I say, smiling broadly as I touch my bruised cheek. "You could have told me to think fast." He is dribbling again with both hands at once, hopping up and down as he bounces the ball. "Oh," he says. "That was what I was trying to remember." Then he goes, "Watch this!" He sinks his teeth into the basketball and pops it. "Nice one," I say. "Wanna grab a turkey dinner and then huff gasoline and murder a few people?" He nods 10 or 30 times and then hops away.

The line goes on and on. It is quite long and growing. Its roots and tributaries extend into other streets. People are leaving bus stops in droves to come and beat on me. They are forgetting about their sports programming to try out their fists at boxing. The man with the oven mittens holds back my arms. These people have eaten all my grapes. Even small children are taking shots. It's the toddlers from the dumpster, heaving cinderblocks. Apparently I cannot escape my job even when I'm outside the building. It is evening now and the buses no longer stop. They know when it's futile. They circle their routes at high speeds, showing off their empty yellow interiors. People light torches. As it gets darker, Patches steps up to beat me over the head with the salmon. Apparently he is not dead. Up in the sky, a satellite slows and falls. It burns to nothing in a flash. Shit, here they come with a battering ram.

My work is never done,

Major Timothy McWeeney

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Date: Mon, 17 July 2000
From: "Tristan Brummagem"
Subject: Decorum: Dropped.

Dear McSweeney's:

Greetings from Kazakstan.

I greatly appreciated your recent letter, but perhaps you have me confused with someone else. While I certainly have strong feelings on the topic at hand (not sure if that pun was intentional), I have never participated in message board discussions on masturbation -- not that I'm averse to doing so (either discussing the topic in an online forum or practicing the aforementioned act). Sounds like you are the recipient of false information on a number of fronts. If you are indeed a victim of blindness and hair-growth on your palms, I can assure you that this is not due to any form of self-flagellation. I myself have done the one-handed deed for as long as I can remember, at least since the first time my mother left me alone in the shower, and have never noticed any adverse side effects (constipation, difficulty breathing, pernicious anemia, cramping, heart palpitations, charley horse, hallucinations involving lesser deities, juvenile arthritis and nausea have all been attributed to sugar pill). So yank away, my friend, yank away, I always say.

On to your proposed topic of discussion: Quality. While I have never read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," I do own a copy. It rests on a portion of my bookcase where I have stacked, one on top of another, books of a diminutive dimension, a particular size commonly referred to as mass-market paperbacks. While it may be questionable whether this publication is fit for consumption by the masses, it has long been printed in their format. The book's cover is in a pale shade of pink, much like that of the liquid penicillin I oft consumed as a child. For years I was repeatedly affliction by strep (Streptococcus) throat and I rather enjoyed taking this fluid form of penicillin, which to me tasted of juniper berries. Perhaps this particular predilection explains why I was struck with strep throat so frequently, until the day our family physician administered a shot of penicillin in my posterior, and although I fondly remember the aftermath of this injection, when my father took an unprecedented day off from work to accompany me to the doctor's office and afterwards to McDonald's for a Happy Meal (my first ever with cheese!), the force with which that needle entered the fleshy region of my rear, successfully rid me of this childhood indisposition. Incidentally, a childhood friend of my father was chosen, due to his work with molds in a fifth grade science project, to participate in the groundbreaking development of penicillin along with a team of scientists at Princeton University. You may find it interesting to know that this boy's name was Ira Jack Cohen. Another childhood friend of my father recently won the New York State Lottery for a sum of 11 million dollars (before taxes). I'm afraid I can't provide you with his given name (which has been optioned by the state), but in our household, this lucky individual was solely referred to as The Beast. And now the state supported numbers racket may be worth our time after all, but I digress. Perhaps in my rambling way, I have actually answered the questions you posed. Is Quality a product of one's life or is it in the living of life? Well indeed, as Life is in the details, details like those mentioned above, Quality is in these particulars. As we all have details in our lives, do we not, does this tautology lead one to believe that all our lives are of Quality and are thus worthy of consideration on the level of an advanced philosophical discourse?

Another similar topic I have strong feelings about is smells. Here's a curious question which perhaps you could shed some light on: if the smell of shit lingers in the bathroom for lengths of time often in excess of half an hour, then why does the smell of shit not linger on the shitter (unless of course the shitter shits in his or her pants, not in a bathroom)? And why have I never previously contemplated this conundrum? Did I take it for granted that if no one bore witness to my timely retreat from the men's room, then no one would know I was the one who dropped the fetid load? Perhaps. Or perhaps this is a koan which requires further examination. This evening I shall read your little motorcycle book and endeavor to move beyond my limbic blindness.

In reference to your post-script, it has been said that a man must do many things in the name of vodka. Irregardless, after excessive consumption of vodka or other forms of alcohol, some individuals have been blessed with the ability to move beyond a certain level of consciousness and experience a state commonly referred to as a "black out," and thus eliminating embarrassing memories which may or may not cause guilt and/or regret. I, however, am not one of these lucky people. I can recall every single thing I have ever done in any and all compromised states of intoxication. Now some may say I am better off with my ability to remember in tact, but the look on those children's faces, as I vomited all over their sonsy little dog while giving him a hand job, is something I could certainly live without.

"Tristan Brummagem"

PS - Onan Portable Power Generators are irrefutably the best on the market today.

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Date: Mon, 17 July 2000
From: "Ceres O. Ulalume"

Dear McSweeneys,

This has come to my attention. I am amused. Take, if you will, a collection of statues, say twenty, many of porcelain though some must be of cheaper clay. Boxers: poised, alert, yet comical because an ear is chipped here, half a leg missing there. What does this mean?

And then a photograph of a man, in black and white. Wire-rimmed glasses, you can see how thick the lenses. Ah benevolence is his expression! Not pure and sweet, the knowing kind. I know what you do and think and I am letting you get away with everything, he says, the corners of his mouth hidden in the creases of his jowls.

Or another photograph. This man too wears glasses but the photo is browning. His face is tense. He is handsome.

How we met: I was waiting to cross the street last night at 8:37 in the rain. I never made it to the other side. A police officer directed traffic from four directions efficiently, bored. He saw me immediately but allowed another round of cars through before addressing his duty to shepherd me across unscathed. He was chivalrous, considerate, impassive, fair. I developed a crush on him as the four cars splashed by. He nodded to me then with his arms outstretched, white gloves, authority. Holding back the rush of impatient drivers who scowled at each other asserting their right to be first as soon as his fingers bent. He watched me as I began my crossing. Muddy water sloshed from the gutters so I had to jump out about three feet to reach unpuddled pavement.

Buoyant with sudden power, the ability to prevent these people, the drivers, from accessing the rest of their lives, I told myself to slow down, to savor. I stepped gingerly, pretending to protect my shoes. This was effective. I could feel their glares on me now, torn from what they realized had become future obstacles, trying to pierce me, their new immediate obstacle. The police officer not counting here--a machine. I grew excited and boldly stopped in front of him, my officer standing in the rain, and looked up at his face shadowed beneath his cap.

I did not look him in the eyes, afraid that I would break, but I saw that they were clear grey blue with dark rays shooting out from the pupil and even darker rims. Alert, intelligent, possibly sly. His skin was damp and he smelled of wet leather and shoe polish. I leaned down to fix the strap of my sandal and he reacted, reaching out to catch me, assuming I was falling. Maybe he was accustomed to women swooning. A car stole this brief faltering to tear through the intersection, extra fast. My officer recovered quickly and raised his hand again, met each drivers' eyes, especially stern with the new driver to the North, and commanded each of them to wait.

I was covered in mud splattered from the tires of the rogue. I could feel it drying on my lips but dared not lick them. Could feel it sticking to my eyelashes and tried not to blink. He saw this and did the most dreamy thing. He briefly withdrew his hands from the traffic world and placed them on my shoulders, turning me gently around, away from him, then pulling me in close, embracing me with his orange slicker. For another hour or so we went on with his job, spinning, marching about in the center there, directing, waving and nodding the cars through, orderly. I had to step with him, spin with him, make way for his elbows.

I clasped the raincoat shut around us and hid, powerless now. Once I tried standing on his shoes to make the choreography less complicated, but they were too slippery so I stepped between them. I don't think anyone could see me there, head down, arms grasping his pants behind me, beaming. No one else crossed the street during the rest of his shift. No cars crashed.

Can you picture us there? No, you can't see me, beneath his orange slicker. But I am there, and this is only the beginning.


Ceres O. Ulalume
Expatriot Extraordinaire

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Date: Wed, 10 July 2000
From: "Sandra Martini"
Subject: Rules of the Outcast

Dear McSweeney's:

We formed our own principles of civilization after three weeks on the raft.

What had started out as voluntary solitary, turned into a mad dash for freedom when that dirty bird landed on the stern of my vessel. Everything seemed to be fine at first. The bird just sat there looking up at me like a man so drunk, he'd forgotten his own name, rank and serial number. He didn't beg for a thing, but I gave the frisky little fellow some of my trail mix anyway (ocean voyage flavor, the kind with the dried pineapples and coconut, even though we were out on an oversized pond), and after he cleaned himself off, I named him Walter. It was clear that Walter was no bird of pry; this was obvious due to his endless taste for pineapple, which we all know is the fruit of peace and love.

After a few days, Walter became comfortable enough to let me pet his soft gray feathers, but he balked and jumped back when I tried to touch the white ones on this throat. That pale spot, white as a bridal shower, is his most attractive feature, a true asset, so I did understand that he wouldn't want me to smudge it with my greasy fingers. It was presumptuous of me to try to touch him there in the first place.

So as I said, things were going great. Walter let me use his beak to do some writing. It fit perfectly into my ink well and the point was much finer than those on any of my pens. Some day I planned to teach him how to write on his own, but for the present, we were both happy as I gently held his body like a pen, and being careful not to touch his gorgeous neck, I composed long, long letters to my local governmental representatives. Walter and I were a great team. We were really going to make a difference locally, and in the none too distant future, globally.

Then one day, without any provocation that I could ascertain, Walter started pecking little holes on the side of my raft. That was not helpful. My raft was a pretty sturdy one, rubber thick enough to subjugate some of Maine's tougher rapids, but everything has its breaking point, even my patience for a nice guy like Walter. And now I'm laying down the ground rules, or water rules as the case may be. But if I'm anything, I'm a fair shooter, so I'm letting Walter have a say in the preparation of the principles by which we both have to live. He's helping me with the physical writing, so he might as well assist with the content too.

Let's just pray that Walter can stick to these principles or I'm gonna be all over that pretty little neck of his.

Specifics to come.

Sincerely yours,
"Sandra Martini"

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Date: Wed, 10 July 2000
From: Walter Krinchlette & Harry J. Tipple
Subject: A lesson in morality from Walter Krinchlette & Harry J. Tipple

Dear McSweeney's,

Here is a story meant to provide a little basic spiritual and moral guidance for your readers:

The reverend took the dish full of cocaine and stuck his plump finger into it. He rolled his eyes in anticipation and brought his coke-laden finger to his dilated, bloodstained nostrils. He inhaled deeply. "Now you see it. Now you don't," he chortled in his deep voice, rising up from the layers of fat. Dandy was scared. He brought out a knife, concerned that the old pederast was wasting the product again. "Get your damn finger out. I don't even want to know how long it's been up your ass today. Let's act like civilized folk and cut a few lines on this bible." The reverend dumped some coke onto the bible. Dandy took his knife and started cutting the coke into nice lines. The reverend yelled, "Watch what you're doing dipshit, you'll cut into genesis. That's my favorite part!" "Your not even a real reverend," said Dandy, "so shut the fuck up or you wont be gettin' any." "You're a potty mouthed little boy."

Dandy was careful as he laid out the lines. He imagined the reverend pulling off his cassock to reveal two short men, each of them also in cassocks, who would then pull off their cassocks to make four, each with a greedy straw. Dandy would stab them all and hang them up by Jesus. He did a big line. "Did you say potty?" he said. A second later he was on the altar, dancing, basically just standing in place waving his hands back and forth across his swinging knees. "That's right old man. It's potty time!"

"Get off the stump. Your embarrassing the birches," said the reverend. He started to waddle toward the coke and tripped over a root, smacking his face into the bible which rested on top of the giant stump that Dandy was dancing on. Powder scattered everywhere. The reverend rose with a white face flecked in blood. Dandy kicked him in the mouth and jumped on top of him. He began to lick his face clean. "Don't waste the product." Soon his tongue was numb and hung stiffly from his mouth. He remained perched on the reverend's chest, panting, his heart going nuts like a windup toy. If there was one thing Dandy didn't like it was wasting the product. He tried to repeat the word, "product," but couldn't make Ts or Rs with his tongue stuck out like a slab of beef jerky. "Pwoduck," he said. Why he even called it that was a mystery. What they had was not for sale. It had strictly been scored for their own consumption. First he and the reverend had nearly killed each other trying to rob the same church. Then they'd joined forces to hold up the Pizza Hut where Dandy worked. Now they were in the woods.

"Yo face is all pfukt up, wevwand. What xhappened to ya? Did jezus get pist at ya fow dwinkin da holy wata?" Dandy's tongue flopped around his mouth like a fat dying carp. His heart was about to burst from the combination of coke and LSD they had dosed themselves with to get the bravery to stick up the Pizza Hut. "Ya needs somfin for yo fass." Dandy pulled out a squirt bottle full of the grease that he'd stolen from the Hut for his lunch and unleashed it onto the reverend's face. "Yummy," said the reverend. "They don't call you Dandy for nothing." Meanwhile, Dandy had out a pocketknife and was slicing off a useless string of tongue. He tied it around the reverend's greasy neck and tried to strangle him with it. Suddenly, rolling through the trees in a ball of light, Jesus appeared. He hovered above the cocaine dish and made the piles multiply: a drug fiend's wildest dreams. >From his robes, he produced a giant straw of 2-inch diameter PVC piping. He crammed it into a nostril like a bazooka. As he began to suck, a whirlwind of cocaine took shape, a blizzard of white. "Have you ever seen so much product?" said Dandy, doing his funny dance again, his heart now beating at 1000 beats per minute, his tongue already healed. "It's a miracle!"

"Of course it's a miracle," Jesus snorted. "Everywhere I go there's a bloody miracle! Sick of miracles. Life is a miracle. Getting up is a miracle." "Sure is," mumbled the reverend, his face buried in the white powder. "I'll show you a fuckin' miracle," scowled Jesus. He shoved the pipe further up his nose and really inhaled, taking all of the cocaine into his body. Their hair moved. "That's a miracle, boys. Fuck yo dad!" Jesus yelled. He raised his fists toward heaven. "You took all of the product!" cried Dandy. The reverend looked pissed. "Come here reverend and take my pulse." Jesus beckoned. Thou wilst see the miracle. The reverend stumbled over and placed his finger on his neck." "Slow as gravy," he intoned. "Now cover your eyes for a big surprise," hummed Jesus.

Like young children in their jammies under the Christmas tree, Dandy and the reverend placed their sweaty palms over their bloodshot eyes. Jesus quivered with excitement. "Okay, now open them." They did. Jesus had turned into a rusty bus. "Neat," said Dandy. He rapped his knuckles on the chipped side and kicked a tire. "Ouch," said Jesus. "That hurts." The reverend struggled to fix his hair. He wanted to look good for the bus. "This looks like a 65 greyhound," he chimed. "I'm a magic junkie bus," said Jesus, making engine noises. "Hop in." Dandy pushed away the reverend, hoping to be the first inside. "First in the junkie bus," he chirped. The reverend was too fast and jumped in first.

When Dandy stumbled in a few seconds later he noticed that the reverend was hunched over a mirrored table. He ran over and pushed him away. "Damn you reverend!" he screamed. Once again the reverend had beaten him to the product. On the reflective table were the remains of several piles of coke. Not enough for a freeze. The reverend had smacked down his face and snorted them up his nose directly. As Dandy stared at his image in the filmy table and the reverend convulsed on the floor, neither noticed that the bus had begun to lift from the ground and rapidly ascend along a shaft of heavenly light. Up and up they went, Jesus making engine noises. Dandy stared at his reflection and wished he had some more LSD. In the best engine voice that he could muster, Jesus said "Dandy, the mind is a powerful thing, believe and thou shalt be set free. This table is not what you think it is." "I believe! Help my disbelief!" prayed Dandy. He reached out to touch his reflection. When his hand touched the table it rippled. "Don't tell me!" "Yes," said the Lord. "Don't tell me!" "Praise me," said the Lord. "Liquid vitamin A!" shouted Dandy. His hands flitted in front of his face, now ten sets of hands, now 600, in and out. Now the bone was on the outside and the veins hanging off like gummy worms. "Ingested like a frog through my skin. Liquid Sky Denver is the code word for the best acid this side of Heaven. Reverend, you have try this?" Dandy picked up the table and brought it closer to the reverend. "Oh no!" wailed Jesus. "Brace yourselves."

There was screeching of tires and a thud as the bus rammed into a brick wall of infinite thickness and height. Dandy spilled the liquid table onto the reverend. "Oops," he said. There was an angel standing in front of the wall. He had a silver trumpet etched with the name Gabriel. He wore a black hockey jersey and a red bandana. When he saw the accident he smiled, revealing a row of diamond-studded gold teeth which shined like a thousand suns. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," sang Dandy. The reverend smacked him. The bus was in mangled pieces but Dandy and the reverend were fine, their blood filled up with liquid acid. "Yo, whuddup G?" said Jesus. He spoke in the voice of Tupac Shakur but it was not clear just where he was. Gabriel's wings twitched in confusion until he noticed that the voice was coming from a burning pile of twisted metal. In the middle of it was the bus radio. Gabriel laughed. "Chillin' Zeus." He bent down, reached into the wreckage, and turned the radio off. "Now that we're alone, I need to tell you boys a few things."

Gabriel bent down closer to speak, his teeth just a few feet away. The diamonds blazed in the reverend's eyes. "Lucy," he said. "So much Lucy could buy me a lot of snow. I could be living in a blizzard for the rest of my life." He reached out and grabbed a hold of one of the diamonds and yanked. "Don't do that, rev. Thou knowest not what thou dost." "Dust? Where the dust?" cried Dandy. "I need to dissolve some into my veins to suck up the Liquid Sky Denver." "You are both in terrible danger. What is up is down and what is good is bad. In other words, that aint jesus yo drivin with." "What the fuck?" said the reverend. An image filled his mind of he and Dandy lying on the forest floor by the stolen Dodge with it's doors hanging open and its battery long dead, surrounded by Pizza Hut boxes, pine cones, and the silly disguises they had used for the hold up -- the big ears, the pig and elephant noses, the glow-in-the-dark skull. He looked over at Dandy, his eyes straining in their sockets as though he still had on the goofy eyes, and noticed that Dandy was still wearing the horrible hand and bubba teeth. Gabriel was gone and it was beginning to get warm.

"Died of an overdose," he thought. The sky was shot with red and the churning clouds were beginning to reek of sulfur. Dandy tugged at his hair and a clump came out with some brain attached to it. "Dandy," whispered the reverend. "Do you know who Lucy is?" Dandy looked absolutely terrified. One of his eyes popped out and landed in his hand. "Lucifer!" blurted the reverend. The ground turned to white powder and they were both instantly sober with a gnawing in their stomachs for more. They were standing waist deep in the cocaine. The reverend bent down to sniff it up but when he did the coke lowered just out of his reach. He tried again and again, sniffing harder and harder until he hyperventilated and fainted without falling over. Dandy looked on in horror with his one eye and bent down to gain some powder confidence. The same thing happened to Dandy and he couldn't reach the cocaine. He hyperventilated and fainted standing up as well. Above, Lucifer shone in the sky with the diamond-studded teeth of Gabriel around his neck. Round one: Satan.

Thank you for your patience,

Walter Krinchlette & Harry J. Tipple

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Date: Mon, 09 July 2000
From: "Timothy McWeeney"

Dear McSweeney's,

On the battlefield, the smoke lifted up her skirts like granny McWeeney at the Burger King, looking for a free meal. We had just trounced the enemy and I was clearing the noodles from my eyes. As far as I could see, rats were getting busy on the corpses, twisting them into the shape of angry letters to the editor, feasting. Blood Clown was there, on his hands and knees. He too was feasting. He had come from the S & M club to help in our fight, but left early, slapping on his rubber nose and leg shackles and jogging back up the highway. With my pink whistle and chopsticks, I was ready for another battle. Something more civil. A gentleman's duel. A fight to the death with paperclips.

Suddenly a rodent was dancing on my face. He pawed at my eyes, driving me into a shrub secured by a length of chain. Obviously this was Ratso, my best soldier. Perhaps he was displaying affection of some kind. He was wearing a diaper and a curly blue wig and his breath reeked of liquor, goat cheese, and blood. "What the fuck you little fuck?" I said to him. But then I realized, "Ah. The hedge-born maggot is just celebrating." I mussed his wig. "Yes Ratso. Victory!" No, that was not it. "A message from on high sir," says the rodent, briskly saluting. "Bad news I'm afraid. The General has been demoted." The words bounced off my ears and landed at my feet. "What Ratso?" Distracted, I bit his head off. I was chewing then. "You say something?"

No matter. Just as a crocodile always grows new teeth to replace the old ones, there is always a new corpse to get silly about. Hence my bib and homemade dentures. Moreover, a demotion suits my new profession at the mall. Me and my friend Spontaneous Ernie work in the food court at Fisty-Fun: the new human punching booth. People come by to unwind and listen to pop music. Ernie and I are old pals so it works out neat. "Spontaneous" comes from the fact that he's a 300-pound epileptic covered with another 50 or so pounds of body hair. While Ernie holds back my arms and chews on crackers, I go limp and stick out my chin. "Hit me with all you got," I scream at the customers. Comes the response, "I'm gonna break ya little faggot jaw!" Always some pansy whimpering with a monkey wrench.

At lunch the line goes all the way up the escalator. People hold their place by walking in place backwards, clenching their fists, jamming out to Big Punisher and Babyface. They grin in anticipation of the chance to pummel an old man in desperate need of attention. Well, not that old. But you know, life takes its toll. Too much gasoline and scarification. Too much rat fur for breakfast. This job is easy though. All I have to do is absorb the punches while the pussies bounce their Nurf knuckles on my chest; drift off into fairyville and try not to look like I'm enjoying it. Plenty of time for reflection.

For example, unbeknownst to Spontaneous, I actually have childhood memories of once being extremely popular. Such as the time I first had sex with a toddler. I was 4. Lucky little tramp was my own sister so it hardly counted. Achievements like these set the tone early for McWeeney. Take my new 13-year-old wife. She is hot! She drinks nothing but Mountain Dew. I call it Gatorurine. Sometimes I remember the days back in junior high when I ruled all of Westchester. I was the first bold enough to set himself on fire, egg his own house, and listen to hardcore gansta rap while torturing small animals in the microwave. None of the other wussies would put a fork to those chewy hip-hop casseroles. No lemons. But I bit right through the fur. Never lost the taste neither. My wife knows about it. She finds out first-hand when she comes to the booth 3 times a day for a quick fuck in the storage closet. Not like the last whore who never left the brothel. So McWeeney is a happy man. Barely conscious, yes, bleeding from every orifice, but happy. Sumbitches oughta clone my ass. Create a race of sicko mutants for use in the home and school.

Completely unrelated it is dogs that I hate. For a short period of time I was blind. Cats I understand, but people don't believe it when they see you being led around town by a seeing-eye cat. The reason that Ernie pins back my arms is because people would rather beat on the helpless. Me and Ernie understand this. He, because he's the Spontaneous: a fat slobbering epileptic. Me, in the indistinct memories of my laughing father: a blind homeless crack whore. Also from my days as a bully. In my mid-30s I terrorized every nerd 10-year-old I saw on the street. Goddamn hippies. That's how come I lost my eyesight for a year or two. Too many headbutts. But listen, I love this new job. Fuckin' A, I got near constant ticking in the inner ear but who doesn't? A cockroach can live for several weeks with its head cut off. Then it dies from starvation. Come on down with some whisky and a baseball bat.

I am begging, please take a shot,

Major Timothy McWeeney